Kochi: Indian cricketer Sanju V Samson has been named the Manorama Sports Star 2022. Former Sri Lankan cricket captain Sanath Jayasuirya announced the winner here on Tuesday night.
The three final contenders were Sanju, Commonwealth Games triple jump gold medallist Eldhose Paul and rising badminton star Treesa Jolly.
They were selected on the basis of their performances during the last year at national and international levels as well as the votes polled by them in the SMS/online voting.
Eldhose was named the first runner-up, while Treesa won the second runner-up title.
Sanju was richer by Rs 3 lakh and also won a trophy.
The second and third prize winners got a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh respectively in addition to a trophy.
Sanju, who is busy preparing for the IPL 2023, and Treesa, being at the Swiss open, couldn't make it to the event. Sanju's mother Liji Samson and Treesa's parents Jolly Mathew and Daisy Jolly attended the function. Malayala Manorama Editor Philip Mathew and Santa Monica Study Abroad Private Ltd MD and Chairman Denny Thomas Vattakunnel were also present on the occasion.
With a total prize money of Rs 12 lakh, the Malayala Manorama-Santa Monica Study Abroad Sports Awards is the largest monetary sports prize in Kerala.
Badminton star H S Prannoy was the winner of the maiden Manorama Sports Star Award in 2017. Athlete Jinson Johnson and special cricketer Aneesh P Rajan were the winners in 2018 and 2019 respectively. In 2020-21, Indian hockey team's former captain P R Sreejesh walked away with the coveted award.
Top honour for SB Football Academy, Poovar
SB Football Academy from Poovar won the Manorama Best Sports Club award for 2022.
Vazhakkulam St George Volleyball Club was named the first runner-up while Thrissur Nattika Sports Club bagged the third prize.
The first-prize winner received the Manorama Sports Club Award and a cash prize of Rs 3 lakh while the second and third place winners were awarded trophies and a purse of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh respectively.
The winners of the Manorama Sports Club awards in the previous years were: Volley Friends Sports Centre Payambra, Kozhikode (2017), Olympic Athletic Club, Palakkad (2018), Pattern Sports and Arts Society, Karanthoor, Kozhikode (2019), and Young Men's Association, Thiruvallam, Thiruvananthapuram (2020-21).
Rise of Sanju
After proving his mettle in age-group tournaments, Sanju made his first-class debut at the age of 17 in 2011. Although he failed to make the cut for the U-19 World Cup, Sanju played his first List A match the same year.
At 20, he was named the captain of the Kerala Ranji side in recognition of his consistent performances on the domestic circuit. Sanju's career received a much-required fillip after he started playing in the IPL in 2013.
The year 2022 was a memorable one for Sanju. In his second season as the captain of Rajasthan Royals, Sanju managed to guide his team to the final of the IPL. Although Royals lost to Gujarat Titans by seven wickets in the final, they had qualified for the playoffs after winning nine out of fourteen matches in the group stage while finishing second in the points table.
Sanju featured in the top-10 batters' list too by amassing 458 runs from 17 matches. The edition also saw Sanju crossing the 3,500-run mark in the IPL. In 2022, he also got the opportunity to captain the India 'A' team for the One-Day International (ODI) series against New Zealand 'A'. As India 'A' made a clean sweep in the three-match series, Sanju was the leading run-getter with 138 runs.
The wicketkeeper-batter was also part of the Indian senior team for the T20 International series against Sri Lanka, Ireland, and England. The stylish right-hander also found a spot in the Indian team for the ODI series against the West Indies, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
In his first 10 ODI matches, Sanju has scored 296 runs at an average of 73.50. The year 2022 also witnessed Sanju brilliantly reinventing himself as a reliable middle-order batter in ODIs.